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Emotions and Intimacy in Asian Migration, Past and Present

A symposium at The University of Western Australia. 

Date: Friday 23 November 2018
Time: 9am–4pm
Venue: Institute of Advanced Studies, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Perth (Crawley) WA 6009
Enquiries: susan.broomhall@uwa.edu.au
Susan Broomhall
Call for Papers: Closed 31 July 2018
Registration: All welcome. Registration is free but RSVP is essential as places are limited.

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This symposium traces the historic and modern impacts of demographic change in Asian societies on emotions and intimate relationships. While the socio-political precursors differ, much (although not) of the region now faces similar population challenges: a rapidly ageing population, rural depopulation and a sharply declining birth-rate. Past government policies aimed at controlling population growth have had unintended consequences; the preference for sons resulted in an imbalance in the sex ratio for those in their 20s and 30s, with a perceived lack of marriageable women causing mild societal panic over singledom and childlessness. Likewise, questions surrounding the correct vocabulary, legal terms and rights to apply to families of mixed heritage confront bitter feelings of historical discrimination towards mixed-race relationships and children. However, conversely progressive attitudes towards marriage, divorce and the family are obliging traditionalists to seek spouses willing to commit not only to marriage, but to the demands of supporting an extended family, through the international marriage market. The revival of arranged marriages connects these ‘developed’ countries to emerging economies further east and south, and reveals interesting reversals in migration patterns, for example, women moving from Japan to rural South Korea, and from mainland China to Taiwan. Beyond neoliberal motives, increasingly liberal attitudes to love are raising the profile of LGBTQI relationships and rights, and highlighting pockets of tolerance and intolerance across the region.

We focus on emotions, specifically the feelings shared within, and about, intimate relationships in the Asian region, interpreted broadly as emotional, physical or sexual closeness between two people, which could include marital or extra-marital relationships of any sexual orientation, familial bonds, friendships or fanship. The study of emotions in contemporary societies in East Asia is a largely under-researched area. Emotions in South Asia (Pernau et al. 2015) have received some scholarly attention in modern society and historically. However, with the exception of some individual historical treatments in feelings in China and Japan (e.g., Reddy 2012, Kutcher 2014), there has been little dialogue about how emotions circulate through the shared media and cultural exchange of glocalisation, and the migration patterns, of Asia more broadly.

The symposium is an opportunity for scholars from such fields as Asian Studies, Gender Studies, Emotion Studies, History, Literature, Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Sociology to share knowledge and identify points of contact between our research specialisms.

Important date:

  • Deadline for proposals: 31 July 2018

Presented by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence of the History of Emotions, The University of Western Australia's Institute for Advanced Studies and the Forrest Research Foundation Visiting Fellowship program

Associated events sponsored by IAS UWA/CHE/Forrest Research Foundation in this suite

Image: Traditional Chinese wedding, by kegen 2009.  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.